Shrinking Spending

In-house lawyers foresee an increase in class action litigation this year, but they don’t expect the trend to break the bank. In fact, many companies intend to spend less money defending class action cases, according to a new study by law firm Carlton Fields.

Respondents plan to accomplish this apparently incongruous goal by relying more heavily on alternative fee agreements.

5.4 Class action matters that the average legal department will handle in 2012, up from 4.4 in 2011

$645,000 Amount that firms plan to spend per class action in 2012, down 17 percent from last year

$1.89 billion Projected 2012 U.S. legal spend on class actions, the lowest total since 2006


Public Perceptions

It isn’t as unpopular as the executive or legislative branches, but the Supreme Court evidently hasn’t escaped the American public’s disdain for government. Public opinion of the court is at its lowest point in 25 years, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

52% Respondents with a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court, down from 58 percent in 2010

29% Respondents with an unfavorable view of the court, one point off 2005’s all-time high

56% Republicans with favorable views of the court, down from 70 percent in 2009

52% Democrats with favorable views of the court, down from 63 percent in 2009

52% Independents with favorable views of the court, down from 64 percent in 2009

Tempting Technology

Judge Peck’s recent decision in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe et al. has put technology-assisted review (TAR) in the spotlight. Now a recently released study by the eDJ Group shows that many law firms are interested in pursuing or increasing TAR use, specifically predictive coding.

36.8% Law firms that currently use predictive coding

35.8% Firms that do not use predictive coding, but plan to start within the next year

87.9% Businesses already using predictive coding that plan to increase their usage

68.4% Respondents who think predictive coding is defensible

34% Respondents who would be comfortable using predictive coding without linear review (though 48 percent would be uneasy)

Agreeable April

April was anything but cruel for job-seekers in the legal sector. Though the total number of law jobs still falls well below pre-recession totals, the sector added enough jobs to reverse last month’s losses.

3,900 Jobs added by the sector in April

1,120,000 Total legal sector jobs, the highest number since June 2009

1,166,000 Total legal sector jobs in April 2008

Rising Revenues

The American Lawyer has released its annual Am Law 100 law firm rankings, and the numbers are encouraging. Though growth in revenue per lawyer slowed in 2011, profits per partner and gross firm revenue were up, particularly in the Am Law 50.

More key financial indicators are below:

5.3% Gross revenue gains among Am Law 100 firms, with a 1.9 percent increase in revenue per lawyer

$1.6 million Average 2011 profits per partner for the Am Law 50, up 4.8 percent from last year

$1.1 million Average 2011 profits per partner in the Am Law 51-100, up 1.4 percent from last year

$2.27 billion Revenue of Baker & McKenzie, Am Law’s top firm by revenue